Trainers David Hayes and Tom Dabernig with the Caulfield Stakes trophy.
Trainers David Hayes and Tom Dabernig with the Caulfield Stakes trophy.

Usual suspects must hold back global threat

JAMES Cummings and Lindsay Park, representatives of enduring Australian racing dynasties, stand as the most likely obstacles to an international clean sweep of Melbourne's trio of spring majors after a pivotal Caulfield Guineas meeting.

Backed by global racing's most potent force, Cummings produced a likely Cox Plate contender with Flit (Thousand Guineas), while David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig unveiled a potential superstar with Cape Of Good Hope.

Both firmed for the weight-for-age championship on October 26 with Cape Of Good Hope rocketing from $51-$8 after his stunning Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes success.

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Having just his 11th start - in his fifth different country - the northern hemisphere three-year-old left Werribee's quarantine centre on Saturday and is now regarded as Australian.

As such, he is one of leading local hopes to succeed Winx as Cox Plate ruler after Avilius drifted slightly from $5-$6 after his close fourth to Cape Of Good Hope.

With four Cox Plate victories from 2015, Winx ensured there was no repeat of the raiders' 2014 dominance when Admire Rakti (Caulfield Cup), Adelaide (Cox Plate) and Protectionist (Melbourne Cup) plundered local riches.

Latest markets across all three majors indicate how formidable the internationals are with 14 more northern hemisphere gallopers arriving on Saturday morning.

Cape Of Good Hope (left) gets the better of Black Heart Bart to win the Caulfield Stakes.
Cape Of Good Hope (left) gets the better of Black Heart Bart to win the Caulfield Stakes.

Hayes was elated with the performance of the Cape Of Good Hope, brother to globe-trotting Highland Reel.

 

"He's got probably one of the best pedigrees in the world so we thought the Cox Plate and the MacKinnon (Stakes) were his two main aims and this was a nice warm-up race," David Hayes said.

"We kept him really lightly trained at Werribee because last season there were a few horses that went wrong there, and he was a big investment.

"If he didn't run well he could improve by stepping the work up but I don't think I'll be stepping the work up. I'll keep it exactly the same going into the Cox Plate."

Godolphin's Cummings could have saddle three horses in the Cox Plate after Flit joined Avilius and Hartnell as contenders.

Hugh Bowman and Flit (right) swoop late to deny Missile Mantra in the Thousand Guineas.
Hugh Bowman and Flit (right) swoop late to deny Missile Mantra in the Thousand Guineas.

"Three-year-old fillies have a wonderful record in it," Cummings said, hinting the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro could attempt to emulate Surround (1976), the last filly to win the race.

"It is looking pretty open. I dare say that she would be comfortable at a mile-and-a-quarter (2000m). "We've got that decision to make. We can let the dust settle on today. We have to enjoy the win and a target that has well and truly been pulled off."

Hugh Bowman, who partnered Winx throughout her epic hegemony, sounded a note of caution.

"I'm not going to delve into the occupation of placing horses, but it's a big ask," he said.

James Cummings is weighing up whether smart Godolphin filly Flit will go to the Cox Plate.
James Cummings is weighing up whether smart Godolphin filly Flit will go to the Cox Plate.

Chris Waller's Finche and Japan's Mer De Glace share $8 favouritism for Saturday's Caulfield Cup.

Herbert Power Stakes winner The Chosen One firmed from $101-$18 for the Caulfield Cup after securing a start in the $5million handicap with victory over Prince Of Arran.

The final field will be declared on Wednesday, but Self Sense - who was guaranteed a start - will now be spelled after his distant last in the Herbert Power.